Northern Exposure Wiki
Northern Exposure Wiki

Cicely is a small town in the Burough of Arrowhead County situated several hundred miles from the city of Anchorage, Alaska. It had a population varying between 600 and 800 during the early-to-mid 1990s.


Ne1-3 Main Street.jpg

The exact date of Cicely, Alaksa's founding is disputed. According to Alaskan land baron and Mercury 7 astronaut, Maurice Minnifield, Cicely, Alaska, was founded by Cicely and Roslyn in or around 1893.[1] However, this date is contradicted by Cicely's oldest surviving resident, Ned Svenbourg, who says the town's sapphic founders didn't arrive at the pre-existing unnamed settlement until 1908.[2]

The earliest history of the town is not known, though it is held in low esteem by Svenbourg, who is on record as claiming the frontier settlement was a den of infamy and depravity so low it did not have a name. According to Svenborg's recollection, a lesbian couple named Roslyn and Cicely arrived at the pre-Cicilian settlement in the Alaskan Riviera's first automobile on a quest to improve the infirmed Cicely's health and to found a thriving, bohemian artist's commune on the frontier away from society's conservative eyes. The couple founded a Parisian-style salon, began education and artisan programs, and gave opportunities to the alcoholic and unemployed youth and indentured sex workers. The area thrived to the extent that it was known as "The Paris of the North" and offered artistic residency to famed bohemian author Franz Kafka. Following the murder of Cicely at the hands of one of Mace Mowbry's gunmen, the town was named after Cicely. Roslyn's ultimate fate is unknown, though it is rumoured she died fighting the fascists in the Spanish Civil War.[2] Other popular foundation myths include that Cicely and Roslyn were just "good friends",[1] that the couple's car broke down and they became stranded, and that the pair stopped to purchase a new pair of socks.[3]

Cicely, Alaska's growth over the next few generations was apparently small, given that it had a population around 830 people by 1990. After former astronaut Maurice Minnifield invested significant money and infrastructure in the town and region from his arrival in or around 1970, Cicely developed into a small but growing economy, and by the mid-1990s was home to a modestly successful tourist industry, a small film festival, artist residencies, itinerant culinary celebrations, several Native American arts practices, and a burgeoning media industry.



Cicely's is located several hours by bus from Anchorage, two to three hours drive from Sleetmute, 300 miles as the crow flies from Ninilchik[1], and around 400 miles drive from Soldotna.[4] Cicely's main water supply is a tributary of the Elkhorn, and the tiny village of Nipnuk is located within running distance.[5] Cicely is located in the Borough of Arrowhead, which is occasionally referred to as Arrowhead County by ironic locals, aware that Alaska, of course, does not have counties.

Cicely, like much of Alaska, experiences extremes of seasonal variation of daylight. The unique weather in the region sees the town experience up to 23 days a year with 90 minutes or less of direct sunlight. [6] The town experiences periods of no total darkness in summer and no total daylight in winter.[7]

The town also experiences unusual weather, which has social and cultural significance, and is home to several unique geographical, meteorological, and biological phenomena--the eastern winds known as 'the chohos' in the onset of winter are known to produce hyperarousal, aggression, and unexpected sexual couplings.[8] The melting of the ice sheets are known to create enormous sexual frustration, temporary insanity, and kleptomania in Caucasians,[9], while a unique form of non-specified illness known variously as Glacier Dropsy, Tundra Fever, or Yukon Ague, which causes high fever, hallucinations, groin pains, nasal tenderness, and an aversion to seafood strikes most long-term residents of the region sooner or later, which finally lifts after the patient experiences a vision of a glacier or ice sheet, and is occasionally fatal.[10] The Aurora Borealis, or "Northern Lights", affects electronics (and at least once caused the residents of Cicely to have one another's dreams) and is a growing tourist destination for the Japanese practice of ritual impregnation during the northern lights shows. [11]


  • 849; Season 4, Episode 11.
  • 849; Season 4, Episode 14.
  • 843; the beginning of Season 5, episode 15.
  • 844; the end of Season 5, episode 15.


Race, Ethnicity, And National Origin[]

While the exact demographic breakdown of Cicely is not known, the town has a high Native American population, mostly Tinglets. There is a similarly high Caucasian population, mostly American, but some are British, Central Europe, or in the case of Holling, French Canadian. Four households are Italian, Five if you include Phillip Capra. [12] Most likely the population is evenly split, with the exception of Ed, Bernard, Eve, and Heather being mixed race, and a significant population of migrants from East Asia. The town's Black Caribbean population includes Angelo Maxwell.


Two additional Caucasians (one couple) are Homosexuals. Two other couples each have one child, a third boy played by Ryan O'Neill, and also with at least one widow with grown children. Holling and Shelly are destined to have a second child. All these couples are married. Cicely includes several indoor playgrounds, one of which has classic see saws and carousels.


Additionally, Joel has commented that he found difficulty in locating Jews in Alaska. Marilyn says that one of her distant relatives is Jewish. Joel decided he prefers his friends watch him participate in some of his rituals instead of "a bunch of hired guns".

Cicely has an Interdenominational church that is mostly led by Chris, but also functions as the town's civic center. They have city hall meetings and medical blood drives at the church. Despite the multiple religions such as the East Asians, Native Americans, and the following:

Holling, Ruth Ann, and Ruth Ann's children are Irreligious. Adam, Eve, and Aldridge have multiple clashed religions: Quaker, and Reformed Christian Scientist. ... These various people can visit the church, but it is insufficient for Catholics as there is no place for confessions. They require visits from Father Kevin McKerry in a motorhome. He provided services to Shelly and that boy. They baptized Randi outdoors.


The businesses of highest visibility in Cicely--the media outlets, general store, bar and grill, airlines, bed and breakfast, medical practice--along with most public offices, including mayor, town clerk, electoral commissioner, and chair of the election committee, are held, filled, or owned by mainly Caucasians. The Native population have their own system of government outside of Cicely. [13] [14]

Similarly, the exact gender balance is unknown, though there is a greater balance along gender lines than racial lines in the distribution of public office positions: town clerk, chair of the election committee, the office of mayor, half the available pilots, and head of volunteer fire brigade, are or have been, women. The town itself was founded by women.

Median Age[]

Cicely appears to have an aging population. The graduating class of the high school each year is a handful of students,[15] and a population decline of 100 per year. This has lead to at least one attempt to encourage large, young families to move to the region.[16]


Funeral Services[]

Because of the permafrost, they often hold outdoor cremations. In Episode 3, Maggie and Joel dumped the ashes above the mountains at the request of the man who recently died. The ashes were sucked inside the cabin of her plane. Burial services required to be buried hundreds of kilometers outside of Cicely. An episode where they discovered a frozen French Man ended up in the possession of the town's Native Americans.


Cicely and he surrounding region has a disproportionate distribution of wealth in comparison to other rural areas of Alaska. The state's richest man, former marine and industrial entrepreneur Maurice J, Minnifield, has a net worth of $17 million,[17] while area resident Lester Haynes is the fifth richest man in Alaska. Minnifield is the town's largest landowner, with a local property of 15,000 acres, while his neighbour and one-time mayor Edna Hancock holds 12,000 acres.[18] Despite this high concentration of wealth, Ruth-Anne's store is said to be the only one within a 100mi radius [19], and the town's doctor, Joel Fleischman, claims to be the only licensed medical practitioner within 500 square miles.[20] There is also a travelling Ophthalmologist that conducts exams in a motorhome. [21] A D.D.S also travels. Specialized Care and Surgery requires being transported to larger towns such as Anchorage.


Cicely's resident disc jockey, Chris Stevens, is perhaps the Borough of Arrowhead's only kinetic sculptor, and his shows and displays draw sizable crowds. Local man Ira Wingfeather is one of the last wooden flute makers in the world, and his craft draws considerable interest from across the United States.[22] Cicely is home to Ed Chigliak, a young Native American filmmaker and curator of the Cicely Film Festival. Many folk art practices of the Tlingit are practiced in the area, though they are rarely for commercial gain. The town was at one point home to a fugitive violinist who slept in a bear cave, tool sheds, and Ed's apartment, and played concertos for residents at night.

Sport and recreation[]

The region is a boon for hunters, trappers, and fishers.

There are also wildlife photographers, with bears and moose being commonly seen animals, and many species of both North American, Artic, and Siberian birdlife present in the migratory seasons.

People like to do laundry together. [23]

Marilyn teaches crochet, knitting, and quilting. [24]

There are endless sacred locations for people to Meditate. Maggie went to a river front to find closure. Marilyn introduced Nadine to a rocky cliff. Later, Nadine had a near death experience. [25] Another time, Ed got struck by Lightning. [26]

Cicely is home to an amateur basketball team, the Quarks, who have never beaten the rival Sleetmute team in their ongoing annual contest. The local, tiny high school fields a highly successful fly-fishing team, the Cicely Marmots.

Other sports include Skeet Shooting, [27] Archery, [28] Bingo, [29] Golf, [30] Poker, [31] and Bowling. [32]

Many people participate in Sweat Lodges. [33] [34]

Cicely is quite festive, including a Raven themed Christmas. [35] During Thanksgiving, Caucasians get tomatoes thrown at them. Joel is the only person that objects to it. When The Native Americans heard about Joel being forced to stay in Cicely again, they stopped throwing tomatoes at him, and let him march in their parade. [36] The Vernal Equinox celebration includes The Mosquito Festival.

Government and politics[]

Cicely's mayor from around 1967 to 1991 was Holling Vincoeur who had the dubious distinction of losing his first contested election when he was defeated by Edna Hancock 255 votes to 247 in the 1991 mayoral race that garnered a huge 87% voter turnout.[18] The election was contested by Hancock due to incumbent mayor Vincoeur's failure to provide extra stop signs to reduce logging truck noise. After Hancock's decision to not contest the following election, airline tycoon and real estate investor Maggie O'Connell became Mayor. The mayor's responsibilities are endless. [37]

Cicely has no permanent law enforcement agency, with Maurice and Ed serving as De Facto Sheriff and Undersheriff, respectively. Marilyn was also recruited as a Detective, but declined. Ruth Ann is the Government Clerk. Barbara is the nearest state police officer. Reynaldo Pinetree is a Private Investigator. Cicely is also home to a Park Ranger watch tower. Cicely has an incompetent fire department. They failed to save Maggie's house, and they failed to save Maggie's / Joel's blue truck.

The nearest detention center is 200 miles away. [38] Cicely utilizes travelling court judges. [39]

KBHR functions as a city hall. When additional space is needed, they usually have meetings at the church. If the church will not do, then they will utilize the Bingo parlor. [40] [41]

A zip code is 99729. This was Cantwell, Alaska's zip code. [42]


The main source of heat is burning wood. This includes Fireplaces, Wood Stoves, and Wood / Coal Fired Boiler Systems. [43] [44] They are high maintenance. [45] Space Heaters are also used. [46] [47] [48]

Many people are accustomed to living without toilets. Joel is not one of them. [49] The wastewater systems are cess pools. [50]

The town's nearest water source increases the citizens' sexual activities. [51]

They have hot water. [52] [53] [54]

When Maggie ran for Mayor, she said she would improve Cicely's outdated Power Grid.


The town has a sanitation problem. They have only a dump that is unattended. Northern Exposure was filmed during a time when in The United States Of America was going through conservation campaigns. [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61] In Episode 4, Shelley threw many glasses at Holling. Joel and Maggie swept up the glass but tried to keep it separate from the regular garbage.

Cicely does not have a drainage system. [62]


Maurice J. Minnifield owns the local outlets of Cicely, Alaska. They include: Cicely News and World Telegram newspaper, and KBHR. The media infrastructure requires large satellite dishes. Holling and Shelly owns one of them. [63] Anku owns another one. [64] Maurice owns at least one Satellite Dish. [65] [66]


The primary transportation is by rivers. [67] [68] Cicley is also served by roads. [69] The quality of the roads varies, [70] but over time they became the migration path of Caribou. [71] It is easiest to travel by snowmobile. [72] [73] They have a school bus. [74] Also, they have Gray Line tour bus service, including Anchorage. [75] Cicely has a Bus Stop located outside of Cicely. [76] The town's airport services include two airplanes, one run by local businesswoman Maggie O'Connell and the other by Charles 'Red' Murphy. Maurice J. Minnifield keeps the airport station fully stocked with food and other supplies. There is rail nearby, with grade separated bridges [77] that Ed Railfans. [78] [79]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pilot (1-1)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Cicely" (3-23)
  3. "Buss Stop (6-20)
  4. "Animals R Us" (3-4)
  5. "Lovers and Madmen" (5-24)
  6. "Una Volta in L'Inverno" (5-17)
  7. "Midnight Sun" (4-2)
  8. "Ill Wind" (4-16)
  9. "Spring Break" (2-5)
  10. "Three Doctors" (5-1)
  11. "Mite Makes Right" (5-12)
  12. Season 6, Episode 18.
  13. Season 4, Episode 15.
  14. Season 4, Episode 17.
  15. "A River Doesn't Run Through It" (5-5)
  16. "Ursa Minor" (6-21)
  17. "Full Upright Position" (6-7)
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Democracy in America" (3-15)
  19. "Fish Story" (5-18)
  20. "The Gift of the Maggie" (5-19), though Fleischman is probably best considered an unreliable source due to his frequent and extensive use of hyperbole.
  21. Season 3, Episode 2.
  22. "Things Become Extinct" (3-13)
  23. Season 5, Episode 14.
  24. Season 5, Episode 15.
  25. Season 5, Episode 6.
  26. Season 5, Episode 14.
  27. Season 3, Episode 1.
  28. Season 3, Episode 1.
  29. Season 2, Episode 2.
  30. Episode 4.
  31. Episode 8.
  32. Season 6, Episode 19.
  33. Episode 2.
  34. Season 4, Episode 17.
  35. Season 3, Episode 11.
  36. Season 4, Episode 8 ... Thanksgiving.
  37. Season 6, Episode 18.
  38. Season 3, Episode 5.
  39. Season 4, Episode 10.
  40. Season 2, Episode 2.
  41. Season 4, Episode 17.
  42. Season 6, Episode 15.
  43. Episode 1.
  44. Season 6, Episode 5. ... The Robe.
  45. Season 3, Episode 14.
  46. Season 3, Episode 14. Maggie's Mother burned Maggie's house down by putting a towel on a space heater.
  47. Season 4, Episode 20 behind Marilyn at the Doctor's office.
  48. Season 6. ...
  49. Episode 2.
  50. Season 5, Episode 6.
  51. Season 6, Episode 13.
  52. Episode 2.
  53. Season 4, Episode 17.
  54. Season 5, Episode 6.
  55. Episode 5. Joel gets an air conditioner.
  56. Episode 6. Ed hogs Maurice's computer.
  57. Season 3, Episode 3. Ruth Ann sells "ozone depleting hair spray".
  58. Season 3, Episode 5. Tongue Depressors made from wood.
  59. Season 3, Episode 8. Maggie chides Joel about the oil crisis.
  60. Season 3, Episode 11. A debate about Chemical Spills.
  61. Season 3, Episode 18. Adam rants about disposable diapers.
  62. Episode 4.
  63. Season 2, Episode 1.
  64. Episode 2.
  65. Episode 7.
  66. Season 2, Episode 1.
  67. Season 3, Episode 6.
  68. Season 3, Episode 17.
  69. Season 3, Episode 17.
  70. Season 3, Episode 18.
  71. Season 5, Episode 17.
  72. Opening Credits.
  73. Season 5, Episode 16.
  74. Season 6, Episode 19.
  75. Season 4, Episode 11.
  76. Pilot Episode.
  77. Season 3, Epidode 4.
  78. Season 3, Episode 4.
  79. Season 4, Episode 16.